Here’s an interesting story from the world of the media. The Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, two fairly respectable newspapers at opposite ends of the state, have provided, or are planning to provide, a supplement to one of their Sunday editions consisting of — get this — the New Testament. Local papers in Harrisburg, York and Lancaster are being targeted for the same thing. This is the brain child of the International Bible Society — Send the Light of Colorado Springs, Colorado, purportedly one of the world’s largest Bible ministries.
Their objective is to
“…reach the unsaved of this area,” said Jim Wakefield, a volunteer for the Philadelphia project. “The newspaper was selected since it could cover a widespread area at a reasonable cost, and then churches could continue any relationships that would develop.”
I don’t know, but does this sound just a tad silly to you? I know newspapers are privately owned and operated, and hence the limitations of the 1st Amendment’s proscriptions on religion don’t apply to them, but as the Fourth Estate, do they need to be so visibly tied to a particular religion? What next, copies of the Koran and the Upanishads? Are there not enough Bibles in the world, that if someone needs a copy, they don’t already have them, or at the very least, could steal one from the local Holiday Inn the next time they check in? The Gideons wouldn’t mind.
My local paper is being pragmatic.
However, the newspaper recognizes that it has readers who are not Christian and who have no interest in a New Testament, said David Newhouse, the executive editor.
“For that matter, there are probably readers who simply have several Bibles and don’t need another one,” he said. “So if this happened, we’d make sure to publicize places such as Bethesda Mission or other charities where people could donate any unwanted copies.”
I save the paper to use as starter fuel when I need to light a fire in the fireplace. So if I get one, I think I’ll save it for that, so that I can experience some Holy Smoke.
Clark wondered what the reaction would be if someone wanted to use a newspaper to distribute the writings of scientologist L. Ron Hubbard, for example.
Yes. One wonders. How about if we distribute The God Delusion?
Here’s what gets me though. They want to reach, and presumably save, the unsaved, by distributing a book. This is central Pennsylvania, often compared, favorably or unfavorably, depending on your point of view, with Alabama. If people here aren’t already saved, a free half-Bible stuffed in with the grocery coupons and window offerings isn’t going to save them. Besides, it takes a lot more than a free book to save people, I always thought. Don’t they need some follow-up, someone to knock on their doors and explain what’s in this book? Isn’t it necessary for one to turn off the intellect and accept what’s in the book on faith alone in order to be saved? If that’s the case, isn’t there a bit of an incongruity involved in distributing these bibles to people who actually read newspapers?
The whole concept seems doomed from the start.